Research identifies different modes of ambidexterity (sequential, contextual and structural ambidexterity) that, however, are implicitly seen as mutually exclusive. Accordingly, the copresence of structural and contextual ambidexterity modes—here called “blended ambidexterity”—has been given little attention, although it may be characteristic of (some) companies and may be a deliberate choice. To establish that blended ambidexterity is an empirically meaningful phenomenon and to gain insight into its causes, organizational context and consequences, we undertook a detailed study of two business units in William Demant Holding, a leading company in the medical devices industry. Our findings suggest that blended ambidexterity 1) is a meaningful empirical phenomenon; which 2) can manifest in different ways (i.e., characteristic elements of contextual and structural ambidexterity may be configured in different ways); 3) is supported by formal and informal organization; 4) is associated with different innovation outcomes, depending on how it is configured; 5) may have distinct advantages in terms of overcoming limitations of each mode; but 6) also gives rise to distinct management challenges.
Bibliographical notePublished online: 22 October 2020.
- Blended ambidexterity